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Many times on Final Prepper, we have articles that revolve in some capacity around the subject of firearms. If you can access firearms and aren’t morally or philosophically opposed to them, they are the single greatest defensive tool you can have on you in a bad situation. Naturally, they come second to a good smart brain, but as tools go, firearms are the best self-defense items that preppers can acquire in my opinion.

Now, that being said it is just my opinion and you all know what they say about opinions. To continue down that line, simply having a firearm is no guarantee you will use it or that it can’t be taken from you. Firearms are simple tools designed to kill people but they require training, discipline, wisdom and willpower to be effective in a self-defensive situation. They aren’t a magic wand that you can simply wave at a problem and make it disappear. Often their very use creates more problems for those who carry them.

There are others that will say (rightly so) that without ammo, or if parts malfunction, any firearm is just an expensive club. To that end they will advocate alternative self-defense strategies. Still others live in areas where firearms are illegal so I wanted to write today about some less than lethal self-defense items that can be employed by just about anyone who can’t or does not want to own a firearm. We showed some of the creative weapons made by the protesters in Ukraine but this list will be a little tamer than that.

Less than lethal

Before I get to the list, let me explain what I mean by less than lethal. The items below with just a few exceptions could all be used to kill someone if used too long, too often or too forcefully. You could say the same thing about a rock. I gave them the less than lethal category because unlike a firearm, the self-defense items below won’t likely penetrate skin, almost assuredly won’t go through a wall and kill someone else and can likely be purchased anywhere without the need for a background check or permit.

Additionally, these items may fall into groups that could be expanded upon logically. It is really just a thought-starter for those preppers out there looking for options. Some of these items could be used in an emergency or improvised if needed. The down side of most of these items in my opinion is that you have to be really close to your attacker to deploy them. That proximity brings greater risk of injury but we are talking about saving your life here. I don’t want my wife or children to get any closer than they have to.

Tazer

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VIPERTEK VTS-989 – 88,000,000 V Heavy Duty Stun Gun – Rechargeable with LED Flashlight

The venerable tazer has been around for a while now and you can purchase one for less than $20. These use a small battery and a transformer to multiply the voltage of that battery. When pressed against someone’s skin, it delivers a high charge over stimulates the sensory and motor nerves. This results in strong involuntary muscle contractions and the victim is usually incapacitated for a brief time.

Tazers have been known to kill people but this is rare so I still believe this weapon qualifies as less than lethal. If you are ready with this in your hand, you can subdue an attacker and make your escape.

Pepper Spray/Bear Spray

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SABRE Red Pepper Spray – Police Strength – Compact, Case & Quick Release Key Ring (Max Protection – 25 Shots, up to 5x More)

Pepper spray is concentrated chemical compound that irritates the eyes, causing tears, pain and temporary blindness. It is used by police officers in crowd control and against rapists by females all over the world. The effect of pepper spray doesn’t last long but it is serious enough to allow you to escape. Unlike the tazer, you can spray pepper spray usually up to 10 feet. Bear Spray has a longer range of about 30 feet and the containers hold more spray which is why it is a prepper staple.

Kubaton

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FURY Tactical SDK (Self Defense Keychain) with Pressure Tip

A kubaton is a short striking instrument that is designed to be held in your hand and deployed against sensitive or vulnerable areas on your attacker’s body. This requires some training before use, but you can get an idea of the use in the video below.

Many kubaton’s are designed to be a part of your key chain and ready to deploy quickly.

Self-defense cane

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Durable Self Defense Cane – Virtually Indestructible

We’ve all seen the comedy act where the little old lady is whacking the purse snatcher over the head with her cane as he is trying to wrestle her pocketbook from her grasp. They do make canes that are designed from Fiber filled nylon that are meant to be used as a striking weapon. Crack someone over the head with this and you will get their attention. They also make canes with a tazer built in!

Extendable Baton

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Expandable Solid Steel Baton

The expandable baton is a modern revision of the old police baton. Newer models are stored collapsed down and extend with a spring and a pretty good amount of force. Police officers carry these and they are basically a metal rod used to break windows or skulls.

Tire Thumper

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RoadPro RPTT-1 Wooden Tire Thumper, 19-Inches,

Tire thumpers were designed by truckers to check the air pressure in tires. It is not a scientific measurement, but by listening to the sound the thumper makes and judging by the recoil felt in your hands you can get a good idea of roughly whether it needs a lot of air. The tire thumper itself is just a simple club and can be used to crack someone’s head under the right circumstances. Of course you could also break hands, arms, legs…

Baseball Bat

Or golf club, hockey stick, cricket bat, broom handle… Anything with some mass you can get your hands on and swing with all your might. Primarily for last ditch home defense, the baseball bat is certainly a formidable weapon but like most of these others will require some stealth. If you can sneak up on someone and disable them with a blow to the head they aren’t getting back up.

Fire Extinguisher

Why would you waste a good fire extinguisher on a bad guy? Because your life depended on it! A fire extinguisher puts out a big cloud of flame retardant that not only could temporarily blind someone but could also be very disorientating. Follow up by swinging the heavy cylinder at their head for the big finish.

Bug/Wasp Spray

We had a guest who wrote a post some time back about a weapon you may not have thought of. Bug Spray or more specifically wasp and hornet spray because it has a more targeted spray and further distance is one of those items that has made the rounds in prepper circles. To be honest, if I am down to wasp spray it is pretty serious, but in a desperate situation, I would give it a try.

So there are 9 less than lethal self defensive items you could use if the situation called for it. What ideas do you have for potential weapons?

Many times on Final Prepper, we have articles that revolve in some capacity around the subject of firearms. If you can access firearms and aren’t morally or philosophically opposed to

Get a few preppers together, and you can pretty much guarantee that at some point bug out bags and bartering will come up. My personal take is that it’s a little bit foolish to stock something solely to barter – especially stuff that relates to addictions, because people with addictions can be a little bit crazy about their vices. Stocking things that can get used by the household means there’s little regret about expenditures in 2-10 years, whether a disaster occurs or not.

There have been other bartering articles on FP, and they’re totally worth looking at. I have zero arguments with the gear, meds, candles, batteries, foods and feel-goods that show up on those lists and are so very common when it comes up on forums. Still, there are some things that are very, very useful, readily affordable, readily portable in a bag or loaded into a game cart to take to Bartertown, and that I see very few people talk about – period, but almost never in the “barter” conversations and posts.

So those are where I’m focusing today.

In many cases, they’re not going to be the first things to run off shelves. Know your area and know what disappears – and when seasonally it tends to disappear even without a disaster. I tend to focus my own efforts on those things I don’t expect to find 3-9 months after a major crisis. I’m also cognizant that some things are never in much bulk – or enough bulk – and that even beyond looters and municipal groups that stand up to try to save their communities and go salvaging, there’s the risk of fires spreading and taking out stores.

With that in mind, here’s my list of 8 barter items that end up ignored as barter items and that aren’t without merit as backups for our own stockpiles.

Canning Jars – Especially Lids

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Tattler Reusable Canning Lids & Rubber Rings

It’s pretty rare to find stores with nothing but canning jars on the aisles these days. In most cases, a store at its max display capacity has fewer jars than a single family would need to can only a veggie supplement for 6-9 months, and sometimes even fewer spare lids.

That makes lids and jars pretty much number one on my stock-up list, both for home use and to trade with neighbors and locals.

You’re not going to stick more than a box or two of spare lids in a bag, so this is one of the cases where if you’re on foot, you might want to go ahead and stick with some of those things like batteries, candles, an airgun and pellets, meds, and other lightweight items that will go pretty quick and that people 5 days, 50 days, 5 months and maybe even 50 months into a disaster will still be interested in taking off your hands.

Sevin Dust

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If you’re big on health, go with dish soap, vinegar and water as a spray, and just skip on down to the next one. I’m pretty much required to turn in my greenie card for promoting Sevin Dust.

But, see, Sevin is pretty darn handy. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, my father used to coat pretty much anything alive in the stuff – ducks, horses, goats, veggies, trees, wasp houses. He used it as flea and tick control as well as on garden pests.

We now have health concerns and concerns about wiping out beneficial bugs and microbes, but if your garden’s getting eaten by eight different things, if you absolutely have to have it to have anything but beans and wheat – or if your beans are being eaten by three different things – you’re going to be willing to think seriously about pretty much anything on the table to get your hands on an easy-to-apply dust that will kill almost any of them, something you can spot treat by hand or hook up to a backpack blower.

I specify the dust because it’s more compact, stores easily, and comes in both big bulk bags and small-container three packs that make it a viable option to cart to the church or community potluck, market or specific neighbors. It also has some of the shortest interval-to-harvest periods of a commercial pesticide.

Liquid Sevin doesn’t store as long, but it does kill extra things and it’s easier to get on the underside of leaves than powder.

Diatomaceous Earth

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First, an apology to our Canadians. I have gathered the impression that this stuff can be tough for you guys to get ahold of, especially in bulk, and it’s not especially cheap there. Here we can just swing by on a whim and get it in packaging from the size of a deck of cards, by the gallon, or even by the 55-gal barrel.

There aren’t as many uses for Diatomaceous Earth as there are for baking soda and Epsom salt, but, man, it’s pretty handy.

It’s the active ingredient in SMITE for poultry, it clears up everything from bed bugs to livestock and pet ear mites, ants to roaches. It can form protective barriers around plants or be spread over them as a powdered insecticide. It’s natural, physical as opposed to chemical, has a nearly endless shelf life because it’s really just ancient plankton shells, can help protect stored foods – especially those we’re harvesting and our next-year seeds – and it has at least a dozen health and beauty uses.

The more uses something has, the less variety we have to store and the better the chances that when somebody has a problem, we have a valuable solution. DE checks those boxes in a big way.

Baking Soda & Baking Powder

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It’s hard to bake without leavening of some sort, and baking soda has about a million uses outside baking – and about a million more totally outside the kitchen. Both have long expirations and easily extend beyond their best-by dates even at room temperature and with fluctuations from 60 to 80 degrees. They’re sensitive to moisture in their smallest packaging forms, but it’s easy to get several or a whole handful in a gallon bag to keep in buckets and pull out as needed.

I don’t expect them to simply run off the shelves as soon as a disaster is announced, but they’re inexpensive, cheaper yet to buy in bulk bags, and it’s worth having some baking soda stocked because it’s one of those that when you want it, there’s not a lot of substitution.

Epsom Salts

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First, sorry, Australian readers (and maybe Brits). I know this stuff is expensive and controlled to a ridiculous degree for you guys. It’s cheap and plentiful in the U.S.

Epsom Salts is what I consider an absolute, 100%, no-arguments prepper must-have. If there’s not already a reminder of how awesome Epsom salt is on an annual basis, there should be. Epsom salt is another one like baking soda, with fifty million uses for human health and hygiene, cleaning, livestock, and gardens. There are so many uses, it truly deserves its own article just as a primer on how useful Epsom salt is.

I’ll take just a moment here to point out that Epsom salt is far, far different from table salts. Epsom is magnesium sulfate, not sodium chloride.

When you want to burn it down and salt the earth so nothing grows (or clean a cutting board and preserve food), use table salt, kosher salt and sea salt.

When you want to encourage flowers, reduce soil deficiencies so plants can uptake their macronutrients properly and produce healthy, bountiful yields, fix an ear infection, reduce swelling, pamper your feet and skin, create barriers for certain types of pests in the home and garden, clean a wound, clear up skin conditions in humans, poultry and hoof stock, that’s what Epsom salt does.

And more.

As with everything else mentioned here, it can be purchased in bulk, or it’s available in small, moisture-resistant containers that make it very viable for trade when somebody’s struggling with any of a multitude of issues.

Rat Traps

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Rat traps have a ton of uses, but number one is their actual pest-control job. Eventually I think the rat population will level out one way or another, but between death and waste-removal shutdowns, I think they’ll boom for a while first. There have also been some historic accounts from Rome, London and other sites of major fires, where rats flee the cities and end up a plague on outlying areas in waves – and I anticipate fires since they happen daily even now.

Rat traps also have applications as squirrel and songbird traps for feeding families and pets, protecting gardens from small raiders, and combining with fishing line and various magnetic strip alarms or things like chem lights to create visual and audio alerts for home and property alarms. They can also be rigged with bells on a line to alert a barrier run of pigs that something has tripped the wire, and with some training the pigs will rush in to remove threats to chickens and gardens.

They’re small, light, and typically pretty cheap.

For smaller rodent controls, there are several ways (at least) to turn cans and buckets or rubber bands and 2L bottles into pretty effective rodent traps, and some additional ways to use PVC for squirrels and rats. They’re reusable and potentially can be made out of scavenged refuse or scrap, so it’s worth looking up those, too.

After all, sometimes know-how is as valuable a barter object as a physical item.

Water Catchment Faucets, Spigots, & Overflow Fittings

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We’re almost guaranteed to see increased attempts to catch and store rain if a disaster ever occurs. Drought and periodic no-boil orders already make water a valuable – and expensive – resource right here in North America.

Having extra fittings for turning our emptied and scavenged buckets, totes, barrels, and tubs into more effective catchment systems has the potential to make not only our lives easier, but convince somebody to share a tool or pasture they’d rather not, or sweeten a deal over somebody else’s offer.

I doubt hardware stores will empty of plumbing fittings super early, but there’s always a chance, since few areas have enough in to truly impact catchment for every farmer and rooftop in the area. There’s also the risk of fire.

The washers and faucets for making the simplest conversions are lightweight, and at most should cost a few bucks. They have the potential of appeal to a much larger community than just smokers, drinkers and tokers, and will appeal to those as well. That makes them a pretty easy item to keep in even an INCH bag and definitely worth throwing in a cargo pocket when we patrol or go to a neighbor – you never know when the opportunity for new boots, tampons, or better bullets will appear.

Various silicone tubes and thread tape have value even outside the rain barrel creations. Some of our local stores and contractors are pretty happy to let us have odds and ends of PVC from jobs for free. The faucets or spigots valves and washers are the more pocketable pieces, but some short runs of PVC and small tubes of aquarium repair silicone can sweeten a deal even more when suggesting or building a system for somebody.

Portable Solar Chargers

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Small, portable battery and device solar chargers abound on the market today, from $5-50. The battery chargers are useless without fresh batteries to charge, but having access to downloaded music, movies, games and pictures may mean a great deal to some folks.

They’re small enough even for folks who aren’t ready for $100-3,000 systems to keep phones, iPods, walkies, and headlamps going, and their value will go up further in protracted crises or a situation with regular brownouts. They’re already something you see folks gouge prices on and hit the streets with during “normal” natural disasters.

I wouldn’t fill up buckets with this one, but having a few for us, a few as backups, and a few I’m willing to part with for the little pocket versions and maybe a couple of the larger laptop-tablet or C-9V or combo chargers and rechargeable batteries for them is worth it to me. I also keep Nokeros and some of the little flat flashlights in my windows, though (and use them nearly daily instead of a bedside lamp or regular flashlight).

Backups and Bartering Alternatives

Like I said, I tend to think folks should focus on things they’ll use in a disaster or daily life over something they never have and plan to never want. I also really like the items that can sit on a shelf for years even before best-by dates expire, especially the ones that don’t need additional packaging.

I have no problem with the lists of the common items like meds, batteries, and knife sharpeners. There are always going to be others, from things like clip-on book and cap lights to the ammo that leads to so much back-and-forth and conditional settings. This is just a list of options that I rarely see discussed as storage items, and almost never see on the bartering lists – even though they can be had compactly and they offer so much in so many ways for the most part, that really don’t have replacements, or are rare to find on shelves even now.

Get a few preppers together, and you can pretty much guarantee that at some point bug out bags and bartering will come up. My personal take is that it’s a

Let me congratulate you first and foremost for taking the time to read this article and the many others the touch upon how to become or continue to prepare to be a “prepper”. What are we preparing for? These are some of the buzz words or often discussed reasons. Total economic breakdown, food crisis, EMP or the countless many other mass disasters that can affect the average everyday citizens in the US. Y2K wasn’t so long ago that we all have forgotten but many young adults were not old enough to see the preparations, church plans and overall fear.

Many young adults have been brought up with a sense of almost instant gratification, entitlement enabled by the ability to communicate without too many issues with the advent of better computers and cell phones. These younger adults are starting to see that the world like those of us that are a little older. Just think this is the first year many students are learning about 911 as a historic event. The world is not as safe as many once thought it was. Many of us have seen the horrors of an economic collapse (currently taking place in Venezuela as I write this). Katrina’s wrath and long-term destruction. Earthquakes that kill thousands.

Some of you reading this have even been a part of disaster or time where you didn’t have power, water, food or ability to travel. How long do you think you can go without being able to shop at a store? How many days’ worth of food, water and protection from the elements do you truly have? For cold environments you need a heat source, for warm environments you need a shade or cooling source. Are you really prepared? Feel free to take a break from this article and look in your pantry?

Now that I have your attention or agreement. We will get to the meat and potatoes of why you should be a prepper. Do not depend on the system. The system as has been seen in action, is not fast or efficient. FEMA and DHS are not here for you. Scary thought – they are ready to help but are only able to handle 3 large-scale disaster at one time. Three Katrina’s, 911’s or Large quakes. After that the stock they have on hand is gone. There is no fall back plan for you the average citizen. Our government officials, Community Stakeholders and employees maybe will fare a little better. You are the only person that is going to truly provide adequate emergency supplies and protection for yourself when a disaster strikes on a large-scale. You are the end all be all that will protect your family and or self if you are a single person with no family.

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Food “protests” of 1917. Nothing as civil as this would happen if people were hungry today.

How do I start prepping?

Right now you considering making the choice to not be a “sheep”. You need to understand that telling the world that you are or want to become a prepper is counterproductive. You may not want to share that information with many because of the negative things that are happening the world. You DO NOT want to make yourself a target. Do I believe the government is going to come for your supplies and or weapons? No but I think that other people in your area may look to you for the things they need when SHTF because they have failed to plan themselves.

As a beginning prepper you’re overloaded with information. Trust me I thought I was doing all these great preps. I thought that I have it all figured out. I am prior service, a Firearms Instructor and have connections. Guess what? Connections do not mean anything when the desperation sets in.

So the supplies and cost may seem overwhelming. Your family and friends think that you have been drinking the “tin foil hat” crowd’s cool aid. Some of your loved ones have “known” other preppers and have a horrible connotation to the word prepper. Face it these same folks will come running if the proverbial feces hit’s the fan. You are prepping for you. You are prepping for your family. You want to be ready for an all hazards approach to Disasters.

People have been preppers longer then people have laughed at it. When our pioneers blazed the trail west they were preppers. They couldn’t magically go to the general store. How many people laughed at them? Be careful because the internet is full of “prepper” sites and articles that want to sell you the newest, best and in many cases very expensive ready-made kits. They can be Food buckets, that “cool new shovel that you can crush Zombies skulls” with or say that you need 20 different firearms for all the situations that you may encounter. These examples are a little outlandish but folks trust me, go shopping around on doomsday sites. They are often using fear to entice you to buy. Don’t get me wrong I am not knocking all of it I am just a realist. I have served overseas in harm’s way and can tell you that the biggest things you need are food, water, shelter and the ability to defend yourself.

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Stores are quickly cleaned out in Venezuela’s food riots.

Having a basic 30-day food supply, water, defense and a plan is huge start. Don’t think about a year, start with a month. Most disasters that we truly will face are less than 30 days. Get training on how to use your defensive equipment. Stay in shape. The argument that having a firearm will keep you safe and make it so don’t you have to run is garbage. Next use some of the foods that you store know how to prepare them, don’t buy stuff you won’t eat or don’t like for food storage. You want to start small. For example, fruits, veggies and meats all in cans. Add up how many people are in your home and plan for 30 days. 2 meals a day and throw in a snack or treat as well. If you have kids plan for them. If you can keep everyone fed and semi happy, morale will stay high.

Next you need to evaluate your risks, include summer, winter and extreme conditions. Are you in a tornado, earthquake or hurricane zone? Use this information to ready shelters if needed. You must maintain your body heat. Lastly buy a good pistol and rifle for each adult. Do not spend a fortune. Remember that training I was talking about earlier spend more on that than the guns. A Glock 19 and a DPMS AR platform with 500 rounds each per adult would be the minimum suggestion from me.

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Riots in Kiev protesting government.

Once you are set on those mainstays add medical equipment and training remember it’s all on you. Count on there being no 911 or first responders to save you. Mitigate risks, plan for disasters that are realistic and when you are well set up and ready for a year start working on those less than likely situations.

In closing I want you to feel safe, be fed and have a roof over your head but do not forsake time with family to get this done in a weekend all you will do is stress yourself out. Try and involve the immediate family. Work on small project to build into the large project. It should be a fun journey that keeps you feeling prepared. It is not a project to that should be done out of terror or fear. We are not that close to an apocalypse or are we?

Let me congratulate you first and foremost for taking the time to read this article and the many others the touch upon how to become or continue to prepare to

Say what you will about paper money, but it sure has made the process of buying things convenient. And plastic credit cards… well, perhaps they make purchasing a little TOO convenient. But what will happen when the day comes when paper money is no longer issued or backed by the government? What will happen when our credit and debit cards slide for the last time? Commerce and industry will never disappear, there will always be people buying, trading and selling. The only difference will be how they will be doing it once today’s money loses its value. So, below we’ve put together a list of 10 bartering items that will be worthy of trading for those days ahead, on the other side of that moment we call when the SHTF…

Information/knowledge

If you know how to do something and another person doesn’t, and the other person needs to know how to do that thing, then you have something of value. Some examples of knowledge that would be valuable for those days after the SHTF could be things such as an understanding of gardening and growing foods, basic medical knowledge, an understanding of herbs and medicines, skill in animal husbandry, skill in midwifery, skill in hunting, tracking or defense. Even a skill in storytelling might help you come out ahead at times. I mean, everyone wants someone fun to sit around the fire with!

So, while you’re preparing for those days ahead and storing your food and water, don’t neglect yourself or your brain. With the right decisions and knowledge what you see when you look in the mirror might be the most valuable bartering object you have!

Fabric

knit

Everyone needs fabric to keep themselves and their loved ones protected and warm and if the factories aren’t running eventually there will be a shortage. What fabrics you would want to save depends on where you live and what your lifestyle is. Lighter fabrics might be somewhat valuable in warmer climates, but in the cold and the mountains, thick wool fabric can be a literal lifesaver. Whether it’s mending a ripped coat or stitching a new pair of pants for a growing child, sometimes a thin layer of fabric is the only thing we have between us and a cold death.

Precious Metals

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We humans have used precious metals like gold and silver for trading for tens of thousands of years. Usually precious metal is traded in coin form. Gold and silver coins are considered valuable due to their scarcity (there is not a lot of it and it’s hard to mine) and their how small and easily transportable they are.

While gold and silver coins will likely always have some degree of value you still can’t eat them or wear them, they won’t keep you warm and they won’t keep you out of the rain. Because of that gold and silver coins won’t likely have much value in the days immediately after the SHTF because people will be more worried about more immediate needs (like food and protection). But, once things start to calm down and an economy begins to reform it’s more than likely that gold and silver coins will once again claim value.

“Shoes”

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When I say “shoes” I don’t mean only shoes. What I really mean is any type of item that is both necessary and that also wears out with regular and sustained use. Shoes are simply a good example of this sort of item. This doesn’t mean I suggest you clear out the back portion of your garage and stock up on shoes the next time the shoe store has a sale. I’m simply reminding you that people aren’t going to want to have bare feet. And if you have shoes… well then…

Survival Gear

Yes, I know this is a huge category. It’s spans everything from knives to tents, from water purifiers to binoculars. But there is no denying that when things go south objects and items that help people stay alive will be in great demand and any item in great demand has trading value. With this in mind, when you upgrade to new equipment you might not want to throw out the old stuff. That old pair of binocs, while perhaps not something you’ll be using anytime soon, might be worth a week (or a month) worth of food to the right person.

Canned Food

This is an obvious one. We, humans, need food every day, but every day lots of food spoils or goes bad. Canned and bottled food is the answer to this problem. When properly stored some canned and bottled food can last for decades or more. That’s a lot of flexibility in food storage. And, if after a couple of years you’re sick of your bottled green beans then perhaps you can find someone else who’s sick of their bottled beets and boom! You’ve got a trade (and thankful taste buds).

Guns

bestgun

Another obvious one. Guns, guns and more guns. Whether it’s a .22 or a .306, a pistol or a shotgun, few things will be more valuable than guns for when the SHTF. Guns can be used to provide food for yourself and your family, they can be used to protect your loved ones and to defend your own food. Perhaps one of the most valuable thing about guns isn’t shooting them at all, but simply the knowledge that you could shoot if you needed to.

One caveat that comes with bartering guns, make sure you trust who you’re trading the gun(s) to. A gun doesn’t care who’s holding it, it’s a tool, nothing more. And a gun in the wrong hand can do immense degrees of harm to you and the ones you love. So, if you have enough guns and see a value in trading feel free to do so, but don’t hand a gun over to a man or woman who will be likely to simply turn the gun around and use it on you.

Alcohol

whiskey

Even if you don’t drink it, chances are there will be someone nearby you that does, and they might be willing to trade you quite a bit for the chance to taste a bit of alcohol again.

Plus, alcohol can be used for more than just drinking. It can be used as a cleaning liquid, as a solvent, as a fuel and even as a preservative! And as long as the bottles are kept closed alcohol will store for basically forever. If you’ve got shelves full of canned and bottled food then you might want to consider adding a bottle or two, or twenty, of alcohol to your collection. You just never know when it will come in handy, and you never know just how much someone else will be willing to trade for it.

Dried Foods

Dried foods are in the same category as canned and bottled foods. The only difference is that the fact that they are dried means they are lighter and easier to transport. Because of this, dried foods will find their greatest value in a society or world that is moving and transitory. If you live in a cabin in the woods then you might want to invest in bottled foods. If you’re living in a tent and moving around then dried foods will be your best caloric value.

Bullets

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And here we are, item #1, what some might argue could, at the end of the day, be the most valuable trading item for those days on the far side of that moment where the SHTF. Bullets. Bullets? You might ask. Why would bullets be so valuable?

A handful of reasons. First, like precious metals, bullets are both difficult to manufacture and they are small and easily transported. Plus, like food or fabric, bullets have a utility value since they can be used to keep you and your loved ones alive. Like canned or bottled food, bullets have a very long “shelf life”. In addition, guns are mostly worthless without bullets so, if your neighbor is the guy with all the guns, and you are the one with all the bullets then chances are you’ll have a lot to talk about.

 

Many different types of bullets can also be reloaded and used multiple times as well. Due to all these elements, bullets will always have a great value in a post SHTF world.

At the end of the day, intelligence should be used while you prepare for the future and when you are preparing and prepping be sure you make the best purchases, especially with the goal of being able to barter in that strange new world.

Say what you will about paper money, but it sure has made the process of buying things convenient. And plastic credit cards… well, perhaps they make purchasing a little TOO

Coping with Challenges – Growing in Drought & Short Seasons

It can be frustrating to plant a garden and watch it fail. It can be mean life and death when it is the food your family is counting on for survival. Yet crop failures happens, to big growers and small farmers and backyard enthusiasts. There are methods that involve earth works, terra-forming or terra-sculpting, or things like hugelkultur mounds that can increase resiliency. Depending on location and if we’re saving to move, our age and finances, or if we’ve just relocated and don’t know the land well yet, those may not be a great solution for us – at least not yet.

We may also find ourselves in a special season instead of a special climate, a year that just tests us to the limits of sanity. It can happen in a lot of ways. Late, wet Springs that have what would normally be a hay cut going to seed because we can’t get in, and forget trying to till for crops. Flooding, heavy rains that wipe out our seed or sprouts. A season that just doesn’t produce the Spring rains our plants need to germinate and get established. Incredible heat and sun that has our plants growing like weeds, but then wilting off at midday – something that can wreck tomatoes and corn, especially.

It’s heartbreaking. I know a permaculture homesteader in Alberta and a nursery grower in Ottawa who both practice clean, sustainable, resilient planting methods, and they’re suffering this year, hugely, while some of the home growers around them are cheering about the incredible sales they’re finding – quart and gallon pots as little as five and ten cents, a dollar, even for fair-sized perennials. The homesteader finally just washed her hands of most of her annual garden, skipped her summer planting, and will skip a lot of her autumn planting.

Why would they put things on such deep discount, 10-20 times lower than normal sale prices, taking a loss on even perennials? Why would they walk away from gardens that usually provide 50-80% of their fruits and veggies, and almost all of their livestock crops?

Water.

minifarming

Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

It’s more expensive to keep pumping (or buying) water than it is to fall back on their savings and stored foods.

It’s the second year in a row that weather had been screwball for the homesteader, in a part of the world where we don’t usually think of droughts forming. Yet her pond is half its normal size, her creek is dry, and she purchased water and tanks because her well level concerned her – purchased them early, and now there’s another pair near her who are on Facebook and forums begging for tanks and deliveries, trying to find them cheaper, because their well is drying and they have just enough to last their animals and households a week.

It happens. Even in deep-well rural Canada. It for-sure happens further south.

It happens with water, and it happens with heavy frosts and ice that show up late, with false springs that last two weeks and then return to winter, wrecking fruit crops as in the U.S. Northeast, and with sudden frosts that come in a month early. It happens today, with all the advantages of credit cards and technology and the difference a few phone calls can make.

What happens if we’re in a situation similar to World War II’s Victory Garden push, the Cuban oil crisis, or Argentina’s and Venezuela’s collapses, or the more sudden and more devastating and widespread disasters like EMPs, internet-shutdown viruses, and earth-shattering asteroids or eruptions that some preppers foresee? Our options may be limited to making sure we have enough food and water stored for a poor season or year, or join whatever relief community or agency we can find.

There are some other preparations, however, that can limit and avoid some of the stressors, and help us still get yields from our gardens, whether they’re small planters and beds in the city or ‘burbs, or larger acreage.

I’ll mostly deal with drought. Historically some of us have always dealt with drought during our growing seasons, but it’s increasing in prevalence, as is heat. The solutions can also be applied to losing an early “normal” harvest, getting a late start for any reason, or noticing a trend early.

I also use some in years I’m going to be traveling during the normal garden heyday period, so that I can still produce some of our groceries, or so that I can collect early harvests and then drop seed that doesn’t really much need me, or can always be harvested as livestock feed.

Generating Shade

Let’s start with the Cuba example

When the embargo went into effect, the impact was felt almost overnight at the markets. Cuba’s incredibly sunny, and there are native fruits and veggies that thrive there, but growers were too few, too far between, and too reliant on European crops that required an enormous amount of water. There are also periods in the middle of the summer where Cuban farmers wouldn’t normally grow food crops, because of the heat and water needs. With thousands clamoring for anything, they couldn’t afford to not grow.

So they hooked their plants up with parasols.

Okay, not parasols (some balcony growers sure did). They rigged opacity screens from 20% up through even 60% over greenhouse frames and row covers. That gave plants a more spring-like condition and helped keep evaporation from drying out the soil.

generatingshade

If we really want to plan ahead, we have other options for generating shade.

Shade can be generated by large-space sheets or full-sized greenhouses, or individual cloths can be draped over rows or beds. The cloths can be full coverage, or arranged just to break the heat of the worst midday sun. What works best will vary by the materials available, winds in the area, and if insects are also being combated. Access for watering, weeding, pollination, and harvest also has to be factored in.

If we really want to plan ahead, we have other options for generating shade. We can use plants themselves, both annuals and perennials.

Grapes, kiwi, and other vines – to include larger squashes and runner beans – can all be used to create arbors. Some like Chinese yard-long beans and grapes run up for a while before they start leafing out. That allows more light to penetrate from the sides during the cooler morning and evening hours.

shadecloth

Shade can be generated by large-space sheets or full-sized greenhouses, or individual cloths can be draped over rows or beds.

Full-circle shading can really help potato and tuber crops in hot-hot seasons, while corn and beans will likely do better under a flat-roof arbor of grapes or kiwi or shade cloth.

We can also arrange our tall plants to the west instead of north, and plant between rows of trees or shrubs (NOT with a till method) to let those plants shade thirstier crops from the worst of the drying sun and summer winds.

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Image: Droughts, loss of irrigation, and other climatic challenges can ravage even experienced growers.

Splitting the Season

There are already growers in Cuba, Arizona and South Florida who pretty much shake their head at standard North American growing guides. It’s so hot and so dry, a March-planted turnip bolts without making a bulb, and tomatoes will drink three gallons a day in July, even pruned to bare stalks.

So they split their seasons around summer’s worst.

We can do the same during a crisis if we know we live in a hot environment and don’t have many backup water options.

It requires a little research. We need to hunt down our monthly average rainfall totals, and see when we’re most likely to hit our droughts. Then we count backwards. Instead of ground sowing squash, we might start them in the middle of winter or early, early in spring with our tomatoes, and up-pot them once or just start with an oatmeal container instead of a toilet paper roll. Then we transfer them, possibly with plastic or a cloth row cover or into a greenhouse we can open up.

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Chart – Parts of the U.S. already flip seasons or split seasons to avoid planting in the height of summer heat and drought.

 

The goal is to get them out when the heat and sun are less savage, and when nature will handle at least some of the watering for us.

Likewise, we can lay on supplies to heat small and expanding row covers to direct-sow normally hot weather plants like corn and beans. Lower light means they’ll take longer – at least two weeks and sometimes as much as twice the time to harvest – but they’re growing sweet corn and tomatoes in Alaska with minimal heating. We can do it, too. They are sensitive to cold rains and cold mud from spring melt, so we may need to mound up a bed to 4-8” to help them or use raised beds and containers.

When it’s heating up, the plants have massive head starts or are already nearing their harvest dates. Again, that lets rain water them for most of their lives, and then we let the garden go dormant for the most brutal heat.

Then we come back in July and August in hot climates, and we have plenty of time for green beans, summer squashes, and more to grow out before our frosts close in again.

We may need to have a place to start and harden-off plants indoors for a while, or plant dwarf, bantam or compact varieties developed for short-season growers to make the system work, but it gives us harvests we might not otherwise have, not without stripping out our wells and water storage.

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Image: Dwarf corn is lower in yield than standard varieties, but since it’s shorter and takes less water and nutrients to develop its yield, it can offer a faster harvest after a late or delayed start to the season, or allow growers to avoid the driest parts of summer.

Selecting Varieties

Plant selection for desert species is a really excellent way to build some resiliency, but it can be challenging for those who live in typically cold-winter temperate zones. There are “drought tolerant” varieties available for a lot of annuals and perennials now, but most need to be well established before they’ll suffer from abuse. That can be difficult if it’s a strange spring or if a summer storm wrecked our harvests by battering away flowers or uprooting plants.

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As presented by Clemson University – Amador, M.F. 1980. Behavior of three species (corn, beans, squash) in polyculture in Chontalpa, Tabasco, Mexico. CSAT, Cardenas, Tabasco, Mexico.

As with straddling summer for gardening, it’s not a bad idea to maintain a seed stock that gives us some fast-growing options. They can help us whether the problem is a lack of rainfall, or if we’re facing a short season from a freak late snow or ice storm, or if goats got loose and ate the garden we’ve been hauling and pumping water to for three months.

Hybrids serve their purpose there more than anywhere else. Because hybrid seeds won’t breed true to a next generation, we want to be careful that they don’t cross pollinate our seed-saving crops and we have to keep fresh seed stocks going.

There are some short-season crops that can help, though, that are open-pollinated and heirloom stock.

Barley has been bred for so long, seed is now tailored to exactly when we plant it, so we need a selection if that’s our backup. There are a wealth of midget, dwarf and bantam corn, for sweet corn or for popcorn, that take as little as 55-75 days, and even more that fall in the <90-day range. Yukon chief and strawberry popcorn are two, although they have short cobs as well as short seasons. Teff can be a fast, resilient option for livestock hay and grain, although it’s pretty intensive and water-heavy to mill it for human use.

Summer squashes and bush green beans are awesome in that they can be had as OP’s in 55-65 days, and bush dry beans may take only 75-90. Even some autumn or winter squashes like Jester acorn can finish up in 85-95 days. Bush beans and squash can easily be covered to give them some protection from the first couple weeks of chill and frosts.3-sisters-lush

By tweaking our Three Sisters mounds to a set of corn, squash and beans that can be ready in 45-55-65-75 days, we can still gain some harvest off a short season. Because they don’t spend as much time and nutrients growing up and out before producing, we save days of watering. We can also get them under some plastic if the air starts cooling before they’re ready, and by planting in combination, we can get some serious benefits in yield and plant health from them, as well as maximize the efficiency of the watering that we do have to do.

There are compact peppers, Egyptian wheat, and alternative crops like oca, millet, African yams, and Jerusalem artichoke that can handle varying conditions like heat, drought, or short seasons. Desert perennials may work for us as well. “Weeds” that are edible also increase our options, although the women I mention above are both foragers and only have about 25-50% of their usual wild harvest stored due to the drought.

Turnips, radish and lettuce aren’t going to work in summer conditions for a lot of the U.S. They’ll bolt before they really produce. Still, they might be something we can start in flats, bread pans, and buckets someplace cooler, and either transfer or grow out quickly enough to merit the space they take up. They can also serve as our backups if the weather stays cold unexpectedly.

Curveballs and Challenges

Mother Nature is always going to throw us some curveballs and there will almost always be a new challenge that arises in gardening, especially if we’re trying to eat off our gardens and crop fields. Happily, history has some examples of ways we can make it work, even in the worst of seasons. We may not be able to get the full, usual yield, but with the right combination of methods and plant selection, we can still positively impact our pantries and tables.

We do need to know our trends ahead of time, so that we can recognize when we’re in trouble early enough to walk away and refocus, or switch gears. Research to keep in our garden binder includes monthly rainfall and temperatures as well as our record first and last frosts and snows.

Hybrids may not be our first pick or the bulk of our stock, but they offer some benefits that make them excellent additions to our OP and heirloom stockpiles.

Coping with Challenges – Growing in Drought & Short Seasons It can be frustrating to plant a garden and watch it fail. It can be mean life and death when it

As preppers, we not only want to stockpile food, we tend to want to grow some, too. Maybe we just want enough to augment our beans and rice. Maybe we are currently only planting enough to rotate our seeds and learn a bit. Maybe we’re going whole hog with 10-30K square feet of veggies, sweet potatoes and Irish potatoes, corn and grains for us and livestock. Maybe we’re working off of a few buckets or storage totes and a hanging basket or five (been there). Maybe we like a big square of tilled, bare earth. Maybe we like Eden-style gardening.

No matter what scale or system we’re working at the moment, our plants can benefit from crop rotation. Understanding rotational systems can also be huge when we expand during a disaster.

Why rotate your crops?

Plants use different nutrients at different amounts through their growing season. A general rule of thumb is that fruits need more phosphorous (P), leafy veggies and grasses use nitrogen (N), and Roots (and tubers) want the excessive amounts of potassium (K). Fruits will take it, but they need more balanced K and N, Mg and Ca, whereas roots love K like tomatoes love Ca. (Notice the PNK trend, as seen on bags of fertilizer?) Repeatedly planting the same thing in one space will utterly strip out not only the three primary nutrients, but the other macro and micro nutrients, among them calcium, magnesium, copper, and iron.

Plants are also share diseases and sometimes pests, especially within families. Those build up when we continuously provide habitat for them. When we break the cycle of availability, we lower the load our plants have to carry.

The “Sam doesn’t rotate” excuse

There are certain growing schemes that don’t need rotation as much. Those growers are typically top-dressing with worm castings, finished compost, and cured manure – especially from pasture-raised livestock with a wide variety in diet. They regularly use a method like companion planting, or Eden, lasagna or hugel beds. Perennials make a difference, too.

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Successful non-rotational or lowered-rotation planting tends to share a common trait: plant diversity and planting schemes that result in truly healthy, living soil that is rarely disturbed and never tilled in. That practice allows for mature microbe and micro-fauna systems with viruses, bacteria, fungi, worms and others all working in synch, the way they do in undisturbed forest and meadows and ponds. The good bugs keep bad bugs in check. Diversity and a complex web makes it harder for pests and diseases to overwhelm anything.

Plants with really good, healthy soil can fight off a lot of diseases and overcome leaf damage from pests without problems. However, even when we start with really good soil, certain practices mean we strip it out, stop the nutrient cycling, or otherwise break those systems. Rotation is one way we can prevent some of the stripping and reduce the disease load for our plants.

As with everything, there are some good rules of thumb and some exceptions to be aware of.

Common crop rotations – 3-bed or Leaf-Root-Fruit

In the leaf-root-fruit system, the order is important for best results. In beds, portions of beds, containers, or plots tallied in fractional or full acres, I hit the bed that’s going to get my leaf crops with the bulk amendments the previous autumn. The excesses and any residual “heat” won’t bother crops I’m growing for the foliage as much as it can affect others. I then tailor amend for the specific draws of my root and fruit crops by bed or plant.

The lower number of beds we use in a rotation system, the easier it would seem to be to remember. The problem is that plant families don’t follow the 3-bed divisions.3-step-crop-rotation

Brassicas produce both leaf and root crops (cabbage, kale, turnips, beets). The mustards from the brassica family are considered a slate-cleaner, but others in the family share diseases that can build up. Likewise, tomatoes and potatoes are both solanaceae (nightshades) – as are eggplant and peppers. Tomatoes and potatoes may manifest the symptoms very differently, but they all harbor pests and diseases that apply to each other.

So sometimes I have to remember to pull a fruit from a root group or vice versa, or plant my roots with my leaf crops. Otherwise, I have only one year between brassicas and brassica diseases and larvae can last 2-3 years in soil. Same goes when I plant tomato where my potato was last year.

Another issue that crops up is that a lot of the leaf veggies are cool-season crops. They tend to bolt or get very, very bitter during the warmest traditional growing months.

I could certainly use them for chickens or rabbits. However, since a 3-plot system regularly doesn’t list out grasses (corn, wheat, teff, millet), and pseudo-grains like buckwheat or amaranth/quinoa don’t share pests or diseases with our common garden crops, I can use my leaf bed for them.

One salvaging aspect of using the leaf beds for warm-season grains is that the previous year, the leaf beds were a “fruit” bed. The simple system puts legumes in that category. That means I can take a page out of Big Ag and small-cropping companion planting, mow down my peas and beans instead of pulling them, and let the precious root nodes that make N keep working undisturbed through winter. When I test my soil or judge by plant productivity and leaf color what’s going on, I may need to add less N to those plots.

Common crop rotations – 4-plot and 5-plot systems

There are myriad breakdowns for four- and five-plot systems. Some of them are essentially three-bed systems that provide for a rest year, a cover-crop year, or a year for chickens in that plot. Some of them break plants into legumes (beans and peas), brassicas, fruiting plants (melons, squash, tomatoes), and root crops. Some of them switch the root crops into fruits and call for grain grasses in a fourth bed. Some of them come up with their own tailored mixes, some of which call for companion plants in there with primary crops.

It becomes a bit of a head-scratcher. And because of the variety of systems, it’s hard to categorize them as good or bad.

4-bed-4-year-rotation-plan

One thing that becomes quickly apparent with the rotation guides available, is that they’re either built for Big Ag and one or two crops per season, or they’re built for home gardeners who may have the same amount of space designated for corn that they do their melons or lettuce.

Because even as preppers, the focuses of our growing spaces are so different, those can work, or we can use hybrid versions to account for the greater amount of livestock feed or human food we want to grow. We can adjust to reflect our focus on nutrient-laden “rainbow” fruits and veggies, the desire for more crops that can be pulled and sit in a root cellar and basement for weeks or months while we finish putting in gardens or harvesting, or a desire to grow more calorie staples, fats, or proteins with everything else a bonus.

That can get time-consuming to develop. On the other hand, asking everyone to learn family names and relationships for a 10-stage rotation is an overreach.

But there is hope.

Common crop rotation strategy – 6-stage “pie”

I found this rotation wheel. It’s a six-stage, or “pizza pie” crop rotation, named for the shape. He drew it and conceived it as a circular garden (not without merit, says the greenie). The rotation runs clockwise .However, it’s pretty quick and easy to apply to a large field of rows, 3-10 raised beds, or a dozen containers.

He was also nice enough to draw all six years, so it would be totally reasonable to print all of them as a guide when drawing plans specific to our spaces. Limited head scratching = good.

One of the things I like most about it, is that it is set up with easy tailoring possibilities.

6-stage-rotation-farmerfredrant_blogspots_com

6-stage crop rotation plan

In this, the legumes are following the corn and melons and squash, but for those interested in Three Sisters mounds or companion planting, the two wedges can easily be combined each year, with three years still between the beets (in “root crops”) and the brassica wedge.

He does combine beets and carrots, which are typically shorter and cooler season crops, with onions and garlic that can take up a full season. And as with other systems, his wedge for brassicas leaves Southern growers with an empty or bolting bed for 4-6 months. Handily, the system is plenty big and “old” enough that our first crop (tomatoes-potatoes wedge) can expand and take part of the beet-carrot wedge.

Equally handy, the brassicas and greens are right beside the compost-cover crop wedge. We can plan to plant our longer-growing cabbages and Brussel sprouts on one side or another so that we can protect them, set up a bunny cage (overturned Goodwill playpens) or chicken mesh, and let them forage and pre-till and fertilize for us (double-handily: a season ahead of hungry corn and cucurbit crops). As one area gets picked over, when we’re ready to turn from our autumn-sown spring cover or our summer biomass builder to a fall-winter cover, we can just scoot our critters around and let them work for us.

We can also, again, replant our spring lettuces with summer crops that don’t share pests with corn or legumes – teff for livestock, a fast barley for sprouted fodder, salads like Malabar spinach, less-common pseudo-grains like amaranth, or sweet potatoes that are related to morning glories, not nightshades.

The greater divisions of the 6-bed rotation allow us a lot of easy flexibility.

The season and year the wedges spend dormant or left with a cover helps keep the system super productive and allows us to apply our fertilizers to crops that really need them, saving money and labor over time.

Not a bad system. While six years is something of an investment for rotations, it passes relatively quickly once you hit thirty and own a home. Plus, we don’t have to “remember” the rotations. Since it’s drawn up in detail for us already, easy enough to mark each wedge A-B-C and annotate “Year One” with the date, then sketch our own 4-16 beds or plots, the lobes of our mandala, or our containers and mark them A-B-C as well. It doesn’t have to be round, and due to the length of time involved, it doesn’t have to divide evenly into six. After that we just flip through to the appropriate year and match letters between what should go in each bed. Easy-peasy.

Crop rotation really does matter

New gardeners, especially if they started with pretty lush soil full of organic matter or gumbo-brick clay, may be inclined to scoff off rotations. Those who have a cabinet full of either herbal or Big Ag-derived chemical treatments might scoff it off as well.

Once you’ve had just tomatoes and maybe a handful of marigolds in the same spot for a few years, you might start changing your mind, and same goes for those cabbages that were huge and booming for four years, but the four beds we’re working now have problems that lime and a floating row cloth aren’t solving.

Too, if there’s a way for plants themselves to be healing some of their woes, providing for each other, why wouldn’t we let them? Big Ag itself started going back to cover cropping and rotation not only to keep their soil in place, but to return nutrients and prevent pests.

These are lessons we can readily apply, no matter what scale we’re working or which crop rotation system we choose.

As preppers, we not only want to stockpile food, we tend to want to grow some, too. Maybe we just want enough to augment our beans and rice. Maybe we

A survival bracelet may look to some like a fashion statement, but this unique type of accessory is actually a functional item that can be used in an emergency situation. When this kind of bracelet is made from parachute cord, it is called a paracord survival bracelet.

Learning how to make such a bracelet can be a fun and useful activity. Exploring a few facts about parachute cord and survival bracelets could help you to understand the many reasons that these handy accessories are in such demand across the world. Once you have explored the reasons for owning this kind of bracelet, you can get started on learning how to make paracord survival bracelets for yourself and your loved ones.

When you assemble an emergency preparedness kit, adding a few survival bracelets is not a bad idea.

What Is Paracord?

Paracord is a shortened version of the term “parachute cord.” This type of cord is a lightweight rope that is made from nylon. Its original function was to suspend lines in the Second World War. This cord has a smooth texture; because it also lightweight and has an elastic feel, it is perfect for a broad assortment of functions today, from enabling water rescues to keeping cargo secured. It can be used as a thread for sewing gear that needs to be repaired, and it may also be utilized to create a line for fishing. It has even been used to make whips for those who ride horses or drive livestock. The rope can be utilized to secure camouflage or mosquito nets, fasten rucksacks securely, and position equipment on harnesses. This versatile cord is ideal for many outdoor activities, especially since it does not mildew as other materials might.

Survival Bracelets and Their Uses

Just as parachute cord can be a useful tool, survival bracelets made from paracord may be transformed into useful tools. By simply disassembling a survival bracelet, you may utilize the material from which it is made. You might rely on your survival bracelet to make a fire via the bow-and-drill friction technique. Another option is to use the cord from a survival bracelet to create a tourniquet or splint in an emergency medical situation. You could utilize the cord from your bracelet to make a snare trap for food. If you are hiking on an unfamiliar trail you can tie the cord around a tree limb to create an instantly recognizable marker. The uses and possibilities associated with survival bracelets are seemingly endless.

Making Your Survival Bracelet

Now that you understand how useful and essential a survival bracelet can be, you’re probably ready to make one. The first step you will need to take is to gather all of the materials necessary to make your bracelet. To make a basic survival bracelet with a release buckle, you will need:

  1. paracord that is approximately 1/8 inch in diameter – you will need about one foot of cord for every inch around your wrist (a wrist that is six inches would require about six feet of the paracord for this project)
  2. a release buckle
  3. measuring tape
  4. scissors
  5. a lighter

Once you have your materials assembled, measure your wrist in inches. Simply wrap the measuring tape around your wrist to do this. This will determine exactly how many feet of paracord you will need to create your survival bracelet.

Place the two ends of the cord together, and determine where the middle of the length of cord is. Then, pull the center of the cord through either end of the release buckle to create a loop. Once you do this, you will then pull the ends of the cord through the loop you’ve made. Tighten the loop until the cord is securely attached to the release buckle.

Next, disassemble the release buckle (but leave the cord where it is). Pull the ends of the cord through the other end of the buckle, and slide that part of the buckle toward the other piece. You will then measure the cord to be sure the length is the correct size for your wrist. You will measure in inches from the flat part of the pronged piece to the end of the other piece. Be sure to add one more inch than you need, so the bracelet fits comfortably on your wrist.

Once you have measured the cord length to ensure a proper fit, you will begin the process of knotting the cord. You might choose a basic knot, such as the cobra knot, for your bracelet. First, position the left side of the cord underneath the center strands of cord; then, position the cord on the right underneath the left strand, above the center strands, and through the left loop. Pull the cord to tighten it until the semi-knot is adjacent to the buckle. Repeat the entire process in reverse (starting with the right side first, and then the left). Continue alternating sides until the bracelet is complete.

Once the bracelet has reached the size you need, cut the loose ends and melt them together with the lighter. You should now have a survival bracelet that meets your needs and looks great!

A survival bracelet may look to some like a fashion statement, but this unique type of accessory is actually a functional item that can be used in an emergency situation.

What if you could design a completely independent motor home that uses solar power or grid power to charge batteries to provide engine power, a dehydration system for water and hydroponics for food? Do you think that would enhance your ability to be mobile and offset many bad effects resulting from the most common emergency scenarios you could conceivably be faced with? Dehydration systems and hydroponics are well-known so they are not discussed in this article. The purpose of this article is to describe how you can build your own solar-powered motor home.

Tesla and other electric vehicle sources are showing us how good the latest technology is in battery-powered vehicles. As you will see later in this article, Tesla’s latest powerhouse, the P90, offers over 700 horsepower and a range of nearly 300 miles using a battery that is small enough to hide in their car.

Design goals for the solar powered motorhome

  1. Range – this is determined by the battery pack. Goal is to maximize it.
  2. Power – I expect to replace the gas engine with about the same horsepower as it had.
  3. Recharge time – this is a challenge due to the limited space for solar panels.

Range

To understand the possibilities that exist one needs only to look at the latest Tesla P90. It has 762 HP and a range of 253 miles. So, In theory, if we just want 300 HP then using the same battery we should get a range of 642 miles, and at 60 MPH that should be over 10 hours! We know that this Tesla battery is small enough to hide in their luxury sedan body so with the amount of volume in a motor home our range is only limited by our pocketbook.

Powering your motorhome

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Solar panels are coming down in price and can easily be mounted out of the way on top of your motorhome.

Research shows that many motor homes have gas engines that are rated at or about 300 horsepower . It turns out that a 3 phase 460 volt AC motor  is readily available from many suppliers. An example is a simple search on EBay. RPM varies but 1800 RPM is quite common and, as you know, is nearly the same as the RPM of a gas engine at cruising speed. A valuable property of electric motors is that it is likely that the electric motor will have so much torque that the use of the motor home transmission might not be needed.

The next challenge is to cope with the power in amps needed to produce 300 horse power. Electric motors draw 750 watts per HP so the number of watts needed is ¾ times 300 or 225,000 watts. At 460 volts that will result in a current of almost exactly 490 amps. That current must be connected between the battery bank and the VFD by heavy copper bus bars.  Bus bar tables on-line show that if one wants to limit the increase in the temperature of the bar to 30 degrees C (86 F) then a bar of copper that is 3/8 thick and 1 inch wide is recommended. One source for these is invisco.com/rv.

solarpanelstarterkit

Solar Panel Starter Kit 400W

When replacing a gas engine with an electric motor it is necessary to replace the mounting hardware and the connection to the transmission shaft and the gas pedal. The frame used for 300 HP motors is technically termed a 449T and it is almost exactly 2 feet high and 2 feet long. The gas engine is larger than that and likely has 2 mounting points at the front of the engine and none at the rear because most vehicles depend on the transmission for the rear mount. It will be necessary to add a mounting brace to the front of  the transmission and then add a platform for the motor. Invisco.com/rv is a source for this hardware.

Another detail is the speed control design. 3 phase speed controllers are easy to find. They are known as VFD or variable frequency drives and they are available from many sources. One source is vfds.com and another is EBay. The challenge is to adapt the speed control input signal to a gas pedal like pedal. One source for a speed control vehicle pedal is invisco.com/rv. Then there is the issue of solar panels. As you  know,  they are becoming easier to get. All of the electronics needed to wire them to a battery bank are available. The trick is to design the high power bus bars needed to power the inverter. Another challenge is to install enough batteries to run the huge motor for a time long enough to travel a useful distance.

Next is the time needed to charge the battery.  Again, Tesla offers a glimpse into the future. If we rely only on solar power  it will take some time. More on that later. Tesla gets a full charge in the P90 in just 1 hour and 15 minutes using 440 VAC! That makes a transcontinental motor home realizable. With New York about 2500 miles from Los Angeles, one could imagine traveling 642 miles at a time, stopping for a meal and a charge, then another 642 miles, etc.

solar-panels-on-motorhome

Now, the reality of purely solar recharge is that a motor home is about 8 feet wide and 40 feet long and about 8 feet high. If we use just one side and the top for solar panels we get 640 square feet of panels. Best case if the panels were all facing the sun we would get 300 watts per panel. One panel is just about 18 square feet so we can get just over 35 panels on. That would get us 10,666 watts best case. In one hour we could expect 10.6 KWatts. We need 225 kilowatts and if we are going to use it for 10 hours we need 2250 kilowatt hours. So at 10.6 KW per hour we need to charge for about 225 hours. At 10 hours of charging per day in the summer that is less than a month. It is clear that using solar power alone for battery charging is the least efficient but it is possible.

Now a rough cut at the cost of this autonomous solar powered motorhome. First, a look at an average motorhome on the market today. A quick search for 40 foot motor homes shows there are many listed for sale at under $100,000 and some under $50,000. This is, of course, the major expense. The second largest expense is  the solar panels at about $300 each or $10,500. Then the battery pack – I cannot find a good estimate on one but we know the Tesla P90 sells for about $90,000 so I imagine the pack might be $10,000. The AC motor is advertised on EBay for around $9000. Other miscellaneous parts might add up to $5000.

camper

Combine solar power with rugged off-road capability for the best of both worlds.

In summary, here are the costs if we start with a $50,000 motor home

  • $50,000 for motor home
  • $10,500 for solar panels
  • $10,000 for battery
  •  $9,000 for the motor
  •  $8,000 variable frequency drive
  •  $5,000 misc parts
  • $92,400 Total

The single most important advance in technology that makes this all viable is the advance in battery design. Without the latest batteries made by Tesla and others we would be forced to install huge lead acid batteries and the whole design might be undesirable. For more information and to follow the progress on this project email [email protected]

What if you could design a completely independent motor home that uses solar power or grid power to charge batteries to provide engine power, a dehydration system for water and

Introduction

“When the system breaks down, we all break down.” – Sgt. Barnes – Platoon

Tactical camping is a great way to develop and sharpen many essential survival skills. But, beyond these skills there is a particular discipline that needs to be practiced; one that will improve your ability to travel through unfamiliar or potentially unfriendly territory during dangerous times if circumstances should require it. Most people don’t think about evading detection because their day to day lives don’t depend on it.

To my way of thinking, there are three issues that risk the safety and obscurity of a group in camp. These are visibility, noise, and odor. I will leave it to you to visualize the circumstances under which these risks might apply, but the general scenario is that you are on the move between points A and B of indeterminate distance. Whether you are alone or traveling in a group, on foot or caravanning with several vehicles, the issues are the same.

Importantly, I am excluding urban or other densely populated areas from this discussion. They are not in my field of expertise and frankly, I don’t spend much time thinking about cities. My presumption is that you have successfully evacuated from an urban/suburban location and are traveling through rural, less populated country.

As a Prepper, you either already have a plan or you are working on one. It should mean you have a rally point where your group will assemble, that you and everyone else know the route to the destination and that you have pre-established way-point locations where you will lay up while en route to that chosen destination. It will mean that you have taken congestion and potential roadblocks into consideration. Finally, it will mean that you have evaluated fall-back sites and alternate routes that may be needed to reach your objective.

The thrust of the title is that you need to be a ‘hole in the dark’ for all three issues. In other words, an apparently dark camp can still be exposed by excessive noise, the odor of drifting smoke or food preparation. What techniques can you employ to establish and maintain a profile that is ‘dark’ to all aspects of the human senses?

tactical_concealment

Abandoned structures can be ideal locations for concealing a tactical camp. In this photo, six vehicles are parked behind an abandoned beehive that is about 100 yards away from a 2-track road.

But first, what is the best time of day to be on the move with a group? The answer will most likely be based upon the group’s overall capabilities, the tools, and resources at your disposal. If you opt to travel only at night, but you have no night vision goggles, then your rate of travel may be exceedingly slow. It will be further hampered in rough terrain where you are required to distinguish safe from unsafe trails. My general bias is to move in daylight and camp at night, but there are conditions, such as familiar terrain, ample moonlight and an experienced team that I’m working with, where I would flip the preference.

The discussion that follows reflects my bias for laying up at night. I have practiced these disciplines under a variety of weather and terrain conditions, both singly and in groups ranging up to a dozen people.

Establishing a ‘dark’ camp:

  • Seek locations that are as secluded as possible. This means that you are consciously separating your group from the Golden Horde. Circumstances created by a SHTF situation dictate that you avoid Interstate highways and all other major routes that lead to your chosen destination.
  • Seek locations that provide the best possible concealment for the entire group, whether natural or man-made. In the case of structures, think of a vacant barn, warehouse or a walled compound. For outdoor settings, think of places where concealment is provided by terrain, dense vegetation, or structures that will obfuscate. One such example might be on the backside of an abandoned corral. Open-air campsites need to be located beyond the range of approaching headlights.
  • Strive to set your camp well before sundown so that you have enough light and time to prepare a dark camp. This means that you are establishing lay up sites that are close enough to reach in the time you have allotted for each day’s travel. It implies that these are preselected locations that you have already evaluated to some degree. The time required to set a secure camp may vary at each location along the route.

Night vision would allow you to move without external illumination and hides your location from others.

  • Have time to deploy or create necessary obfuscation, such as camouflage. The absence of sunlight is not a guarantee that your camp is safe from detection. Although there may be a low probability, consumer-grade thermal/infra-red cameras can spot exposed camps and vehicles at distances greater than one mile. If thieves are on the hunt for vulnerable groups, an exposed campsite becomes an easy target.
  • Have time to set a security perimeter that maximizes your ability to detect any approaching threat. Elevated lookout or observation posts (LP/OP) give you a decided advantage during night time hours, as well as the ability to spot traffic or groups during pre-dawn and after sunrise. If possible, locate these posts on the military crest. Time your travel to and departure from the LP/OP(s) so that you are moving in low light and shadow. Elevated security posts can be at any distance as long as you can maintain a clear line of sight of the area that you need to monitor. Obviously, communication between your camp and LP/OP(s) will require the use of two-way radios.
  • Prepare your evening meals and clean up before dark. In these circumstances, you will want your cooking fires out and cold before dark. Avoid the use of wood or charcoal fires where possible, or use devices like the Rocket Stove, which require a minimum quantity of biomass and burn hot enough to limit the output of smoke. Do not prepare your morning meals until daylight to keep fires from being visible. This is not a backyard hamburger cookout. Drifting smoke and the smell of food may alert others to your presence.
  • Stow non-essential camp items before dark to prevent accidental noise.
  • Each morning, break down your camp and stow gear as quickly as possible. This should be an assigned task. Remember, your security team members will be returning to camp. Every step they take downhill reduces their visibility to approaching vehicles or groups and progressively shrinks your security perimeter. Once they reach your camp the entire group may be effectively blind to any threat. Be prepared to move out before you have to.

tactical_obfuscation

In situations where complete concealment is not possible, your camp can be effectively obfuscated by using features that break up the profile. In this photo, corral posts and rails, an abandoned well and native brush served to mask the presence of a camp.

  • Cover and conceal all vehicles to prevent moon glow. I cannot emphasize this enough – I know of surveillance operations that have ‘gone south’ because a subject was able to detect the glint of moonlight on a partially covered windshield.
  • Set the dimmer switches in your vehicles to the off position. This will eliminate escaping light if you need to open a door after dark.
  • Cloak any vehicle that may be used as an Op center where interior lighting may be required. To be effective, this requires using opaque blankets that shroud all possible sources of light leakage.
  • Strictly avoid the use of flashlights for signaling. In other words, restrict communication to radios with headsets, but keep your traffic to a minimum. Avoid popular GMRS/FRS frequencies that can be monitored by others within range. Use the lowest power output possible. [I use programmable dual band (VHF/UHF) two-way radios that permit me to transmit and receive over GMS/FRS/MURS frequencies, but I also have my own SHTF frequencies that would be used by the group. This helps to assure that you are ‘dark’ to the radio spectrum that is most likely to be used by others.
  • Constrain all movement to the absolute minimum at night. If I am standing a watch between 00:00 and 02:00, there are only two people that I expect to see, the person I relieve at midnight and the one who relieves me at 02:00. Don’t wander around in the dark. Otherwise, you are a safety hazard to yourself and others.

tactical_lpop

An effective security perimeter is not constrained by two dimensions. This photo shows a surveillance LP/OP that was located on a hilltop 300 feet above and 1100 feet away from the corral shown in the previous photo. Locations such as these can provide a significant tactical advantage. Communication between the LP/OP and camp were maintained via radio.

Other Contingencies

I am somewhat reluctant to open this subject, but the exposures are real enough and they are played out every night along the Southwest border with Mexico.

If you envision bug out circumstances that tend toward the extreme, such as attempting to move through an area after martial law has been declared, there will be other considerations that apply to concealment. For example, the government could enforce martial law over large areas through the use of surveillance aircraft equipped with thermal cameras, FLIR and ground surveillance radars that detect motion against a stationary background.

In case it hasn’t occurred to you, the Department of Homeland Security already uses hundreds of fixed and rotary wing aircraft, a fleet of Predator UAVs, mobile vehicles and portable manned surveillance equipment. These are used to detect and apprehend smuggling groups along the U.S./Mexico border. Under conditions of martial law, some of those assets could be redirected to the detection and apprehension of citizens. In circumstances such as these, you could be dealing with a potentially hostile and/or desperate populace as well as a government that wants to find you. Their motivation may not be particularly humanitarian.

The type of surveillance aircraft referenced above has the ability to detect heat signatures at distances of fifteen miles or more. They can differentiate between you and a warm rock. They can detect a stationary vehicle, even though the engine hasn’t been running for two or three hours. They can detect your movement, course, and speed. If that isn’t enough, their thermal cameras are capable of identifying if you are carrying a long arm.

Fixed-wing aircraft generally operate at altitudes of 8,500 to 10,000 feet, while Predator UAVs typically patrol at altitudes ranging between 19,000 and 21,000 feet. Generally speaking, all of these aircraft are quiet and they patrol without running lights. In other words, you will not see or hear a surveillance aircraft that is orbiting your position from seven miles out.

Most nighttime detections occur where groups are laid up or moving across open ground or along ridgelines.

Against these capabilities, the basic concepts of maintaining a dark camp require added precautions; particularly if you are outdoors.

  • You may need to consider setting camp in an area that provides dense overhead cover and that is in a narrow confined area, such as a ravine or draw. Your heat signature can be significantly reduced by the overhead cover. The steep angular nature of the terrain will help prevent detection from long range. Ideally, you will want to be inside an enclosed structure; one that has a roof.
  • Setting camp against a cliff, particularly if there are overhangs or shallow caves, can mask you from surveillance.
  • The heat that is radiating from a vehicle (especially the engine block) is much more problematic. One suggestion is to open the hood as soon as you’ve concealed the vehicle. This will help dissipate heat more quickly. Parking under dense tree cover will also quickly lower the overall temperature of the vehicle. Avoid covering the vehicle with heat-trapping blankets, tarps and camo netting until it has reached the ambient temperature of the air.

I have not experimented with heat cloaking devices, so I cannot make recommendations regarding the efficacy of any product or technique. If anyone has experience or suggestions on this subject, I am all ears.

The probability of surveillance aircraft being deployed during or after a major SHTF scenario (that is, one that pulls large numbers of CBP aircraft away from the border) is probably very low. I know of no situation, such as a major hurricane or earthquake, where this has ever happened. Other assets, such as the National Guard and state Department of Public Safety aircraft, are more likely to be used for search and rescue operations.

Circumstances that might lead to a declaration of martial law across a major region or the entire country are far harder to visualize to any reasonable level detail. The deployment of surveillance aircraft against citizens under martial law conditions would certainly require a functioning central government, and motivations could range from the elimination of armed bandits to the suppression of rebellion. The problem is that an aerial surveillance camera operating at 19,000 feet will not know that you are merely trying to get home. My only recommendation is “when in doubt, assume the need for maximum precaution.”

If it is any comfort, Border Patrol agents optimistically estimate that they succeed in apprehending somewhere between 35-40% of illegal aliens that cross the border. Their estimate of success for drug smugglers (the wiliest of all creatures) is even lower; in spite of the surveillance technologies that I’ve described above. For the most part, smugglers that successfully evade detection use terrain to their advantage.

Conclusion

More than anything else, being a ‘hole in the dark’ is a discipline rather than a set of tools. Certainly, tools can help, but they cannot offset poor security practices. If you don’t plan and prepare for the circumstances that require you to exercise those disciplines, you are placing yourself at risk. Any bug out destination that you have in mind is likely to require one or more lay up sites along the way. Your survival may very well depend on knowing in advance where they will be, as well as the steps needed to assure a secure camp.

I welcome your comments and questions.

Introduction “When the system breaks down, we all break down.” – Sgt. Barnes – Platoon Tactical camping is a great way to develop and sharpen many essential survival skills. But, beyond these

There is one critical question that you need to ask yourself more often but don’t: Am I ready for the next big disaster? All too often, you get so engrossed with the clamor of daily life that you forget the possibilities that may happen when a normal day suddenly takes a different turn. What if a natural disaster like flood, tsunami or earthquake strikes your city? What if a grave emergency comes up? Can you rise to the challenge when your safety is on the line? What about your family? Are they aware of the important things to prepare in case of a disaster? Are they well-informed about what to do when confronted with a life-and-death situation?

“I don’t know.” That is likely what you’ll hear when you ask the average person these important questions. “I don’t have time to think of all those things. I don’t have time to prepare.” People won’t recognize an impending hazard until it’s staring them right in the face. They believe that they can get away with anything because a special force will somehow help them. Disasters and tragedies only happen to others, they would argue. But the thing is, disasters don’t choose their victims. They recognize no power and wreck everything in their way. So, if you’re a wise and responsible adult, you will start planning ways to provide safety for your family while you still can.

There are at least three levels of disaster preparedness that you need to focus on before you can be confident about your chances of survival against disasters and natural calamities. Here is a guide to help you go through them one by one.

FIRST LEVEL: Preparing your physical resources

The most basic way to prepare for a disaster is to ready your physical stock. The three most essential resources that you need to survive are food, water, and an emergency kit. Your supplies should last for at least 72 hours.

1.    Food: The Whats and Hows of Stockpiling Food

It is important to have a sufficient supply of survival food for disasters because you just don’t know when help will arrive and when your situation will be stabilized. Make sure to have the following ready.

cannedfood

Photo courtesy of Andres Rodriguez via Flickr

What food to store – When storing emergency food, you need to consider the best survival food kits for disasters. Canned goods are ideal because they have a long storage life. Store food that can be consumed without cooking. Those that don’t need to be refrigerated are preferred. Depending on the type of disaster that may strike your neighborhood, your supply of electricity may be disconnected so consider this possibility, too. Also, don’t forget to store food for the members of your family that are on a special diet. If you have pets, include them on the count. The types of food you store are important, too. Steer clear of salty and spicy food since those can make you thirsty, and water is a precious commodity during these times.

How to store your food – When you have your pile of emergency food ready, it’s now just a matter storing them. Canned goods typically last for two years, but it’s still good practice to keep track of their expiration date just in case. Spoiled, poisonous food on critical situations is the last thing you need. All food items should be stored in boxes, paper cartons, and airtight containers to preserve their freshness. Store all food supplies in a cool and dry place away from sunlight.

2.    Water: Your Ticket to Survival

Water is the most important resource you’ll need in the event of a disaster because it is what will keep you alive. These are the two most important things you need to consider when storing water for emergencies.

bottledwater

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay

Potable water supply – To survive a disaster, you need to have a sufficient supply of water that will last you three days at the least. If you can store a two-week supply, then better. Just remember to regularly check the date on store-bought water because those typically last for only six months. Change your supply every now and then to keep your stock fresh. Also, keep a bottle of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach to sterilize untreated water if no supply of potent water is immediately available.

Water containers – Your water containers should be sealed tightly so that no drop of water will be wasted. Remember, water is an important commodity that you shouldn’t take for granted, especially during tight situations. The best containers to store water are unopened plastic bottles because they don’t easily break unlike glass containers. When storing water, make sure that every container is labeled. Separate potable water from bathing water.

3.    Emergency kit: What should be in the box

familytraining

Photo courtesy of Jorge Franganillo via Flickr

Disasters usually strike from out of the blue, so being prepared all the time is crucial to survival. Always have disaster supply kits ready at home and in your car. The supplies in your car should last at least three days while those in your house or apartment should sustain you for at least a week. Gas, water, electricity, and communication lines may be out of service during a catastrophe so include basic items in your emergency kit that will address potential problems like these. Make sure to have a flashlight and a set of batteries, a fully charged spare phone with load, candles and matches, an electric light, and a fuel lamp. You just don’t know when these tools will come in handy.

SECOND LEVEL: Preparing your plan of action

Create a plan of action in advance and communicate it with your family members. A carefully outlined survival strategy can go a long way when disaster hits. Although there will be unforeseen events that can hinder you from carrying out some of these plans, it’s still comforting to have a ready list of measures to take. When outlining your strategies, make sure to get your family members on board.

1.    Family: How to prep them

familytraining

Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks via Flickr

You should orient your family about the risks of certain disasters and the safety measures you can take as a family to thwart those risks when they’re preventable and to address them when they’re inevitable. Your kids, especially, should know how to prepare for disasters. Explain to them what disasters are without making them panic. Teach them how to call for help when there is an emergency, and train them to recognize danger signals. Don’t forget to always reassure them along the way.

2.    Pets: What to do with them

cat

Photo courtesy of JoeSang via Pixabay

When preparing for disasters and emergencies, don’t leave your pets behind. If you need to evacuate your home and you can’t take your pets with you, call your local veterinarian or the neighborhood kennel to take care of the pets. If these authority figures can’t be reached, prepare a list of pet-friendly places outside your neighborhood that can look after your pets while you’re away.

THIRD LEVEL: Preparing your family emotionally

To fully prepare for a disaster, you need to complete the last level, which involves your emotions. Ultimately, your survival won’t be determined by how much food or water you have, or by how ingenious your plan of action is. Ultimately, it’s about how you perceive your situation and how resilient you are in dealing with it. In the event of a disaster, it’s important to have the right blend of calm and panic so that you can act without over thinking. Be aware of your situation and your emotions. If you believe that you will survive and that you ought to survive, you will.

Don’t wait until it’s too late before you prepare for an emergency. You have the time now, so why not invest in the future safety of your family? I wish I had is never a great phrase. Do something now and prep your home so that you will be ready when the next catastrophe hits.

There is one critical question that you need to ask yourself more often but don’t: Am I ready for the next big disaster? All too often, you get so engrossed

A Final Prepper reader, Andrew asked the following question on our Contact form the other day:

I’m wondering if you guys could do a write up of the pros and cons of a fenced property as well as a gated driveway. It is something I have considered for some time but would be very much interested in what people more in the know think of these security options.

If anyone else has any questions, please send them in, or comment on any post. Your conversations help everyone in the Prepper community learn and if anyone has additional feedback to what I write here, please add that below.

A fence for home protection

When it comes to keeping people out or keeping them in, a fence is one of the first things considered. Naturally any secure area or building has a fence around it –  sometimes several fences. The most secure fences would additionally have a roll of razor wire at the top to detract would-be climbers from making it over unscathed or be electrified; possibly both.

In residential areas you are usually more limited in what you would even consider putting around your property. In my case, I wouldn’t be able to add that big prison fence to the sides of my yard because my wife wouldn’t allow it. Now before I get comments like I need to grow a pair, I will add that I wouldn’t want a large fence either. It isn’t like a large fence would help my falling property value and unless I am in a fortress it just doesn’t go with my landscaping.

When we first brought our survival dog home we talked about a fence to keep her enclosed in our yard. We priced out a traditional chain-link fence for our yard that would have given us some peace of mind if we ever wanted to let her go unattended. The over $5000 price list made me throw that idea out the window. I know that I could have installed a chain link fence myself, but I didn’t want to tackle that project on my own. Assuming money was no object, the question was, is a fence a good idea when the grid goes down? Will a fence protect you or keep the bad guys away? Are there any yard security measures you could take that would make a difference in a grid down world?

The Pros and Cons

Items like a chain link fence can improve your property’s value if done in a way that doesn’t detract from the appearance of your yard in most cases. Fences can keep children and pets in while keeping smaller children and pets out of your yard. There is usually a state law to have a fence if you have a pool to prevent anyone from stumbling into the water and drowning. Fences create a nice boundary line and frame your property in a way that for some is more pleasing than the openness of yards without borders. Aside from the aesthetic reasons and the property value implications (of which I really am not qualified to speak to) are fences good at realistic protection?

Assuming we are talking about traditional residential fences here, I don’t believe they offer anything on their own in the way of serious protection. Could they slow someone down? Yes, but for how long? Even the White House fence proved no match for a determined man. Fences can easily be cut with a plain pair of bolt cutters (which I recommend everyone have as part of a complete prepper supply list of items), or run over with just about any car and then the illusion of protection would be shattered pretty quickly. If you are planning on buying and installing a fence, I wouldn’t expect this alone would keep you safe from anything more than those small children and pets. They might be a better deterrent while there is no crisis going on, but if the grid goes down, do you really expect a fence to keep anyone out for long?

gate-8

Security gates may slow down vehicles, but what about people on foot?

What about a big security gate on your driveway? These are frequently more substantial than a fence, but they have their weaknesses too. Even with a gate, you are probably only going to slow down vehicles, but people can walk in or around those gates. I look at these like expensive locks on my shed. They are there to keep honest people out, not the criminals who will find a way to get around these basic security measures in a truly violent reality if they are motivated.

So should you do nothing?

I think in some situations, fences and gates can slow people down but they won’t stop anyone who is really determined for long. You can use these as your early warning system though and deploy perimeter alarms at the gates and on the fences to alert you when these obstacles have been breached. In a home invasion scenario this could give you precious seconds of advance warning to either make it to your home defense weapon or safe room and possibly call 911.

Those are my thoughts, what do you think?

A Final Prepper reader, Andrew asked the following question on our Contact form the other day: I’m wondering if you guys could do a write up of the pros and cons of

 

In a SHTF situation, proper sanitation is of utmost importance if you want to keep your family from getting seriously sick. When you add to that a lack of medical facilities due to grid-down issues, staying healthy becomes even more crucial.

When the grid goes down it doesn’t take long for serious sanitation problems to erupt. Take Auckland New Zealand for example:

In 1998, Auckland suffered a 5-week long power outage that halted water supplies, causing a large part of the city’s apartment dwellers and office workers to lose the ability to flush. Since the average person did not know how to properly deal with human waste, after only three days the resulting lack of waste-water services quickly escalated into a sanitation nightmare.

Here are two accounts of that time (please see footnotes for full articles):

Since water and sewage rely on electrically-driven pumps to get them into office blocks and towers, these services often aren’t available either. What little power is available is being used by emergency and civil services as far as possible, with other services like traffic lights being run if there’s anything to spare. Many office blocks have no power, water, or sewage services available. Combine the lack of sanitation with absence of air conditioning and you can imagine what conditions are like in parts of these buildings.

And here is an account from someone who was tasked in writing up a white paper for the New Zealand government on the effects caused by no running water:

People in general are not smart. Rather than try and conserve or make a plan once the water stopped flowing, they would flush their toilets. Without power from the force of water pressure the tank doesn’t refill. The domino effect is not only gross but staggering, what human beings that have never lived beyond modern conveniences will do is unimaginable.

What I researched and wrote about blew my own mind…when people were actually confronted with such a situation, they went where ever they could – they filled the toilet, the toilet tank, the tub, the shower, the sink – when the bathrooms became uninhabitable, they went in corners, boxes, bags, closets…most however left by the time they were using the tub. Guess how long that took? That’s right, three days!.[2]

How to Dispose of Human Waste in a Grid-Down Situation

If you’re in a situation where the grid goes down and the water stops flowing, you’ll want to be sure you’re correctly dealing with human waste.

Here’s how:

If You Have a Septic System

First off, if you have your own septic system, you’re in a better spot over others connected to a town/city sewer line. With a septic system, as long as you have availability to water (from storage or any grey water source), you’ll still be able to flush.

How to Flush without Running Water

toilet-tank-filltoilet-bowl-fill
If you are on Town/City Sewer LinesIf you’re short on water, then I recommend you follow the same procedures as those who are connected to town/city sewer lines:

If you’re connected to a town or city sewer line then the the absolute first step is:

Make sure the sewer main is not down!

If the sewer main is down, don’t flush the toilet. Not flushing will prevent your lines from mixing with neighborhood crap and backing up into your plumbing (not just the toilets but the sink and tub too).

If you’re absolutely sure there is no issue with the sewer lines, then you can follow the same method as someone on a septic system. Just be sure you have enough water for drinking, cleaning and cooking.

Non-Water Dependant Methods of Waste Disposal

Before I get into some of the non-water dependent methods of waste removal, there are three things you need to be mindful of: flies, pests and pets.
flies-poopThese guys would like nothing more than to chow down on your business and in some way come into contact with you or your living space.

Flies especially are notorious for landing on your food and plates while eating, and wouldn’t think twice about doing that after having just enjoyed a fecal feast at your expense. And what will soon follow is a fecal-borne pathogen’s ultimate fantasy — amounting to a health nightmare for you and your loved ones.

Given that, you want to do everything in your power to prevent them from coming into contact with your excrement by keeping it covered and clean (more details to follow).

Waste Disposal in a Rural Area

If you live in the boonies or a semi-rural area but are still connected to the grid, consider yourself lucky. For you guys, it’s just a matter of doing your business outside.

The Cat Hole

cat-holeIn a short-term emergency, a few cat holes is all you need. Just take a garden trowel, a small shovel, or a post digger and make a hole about 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter. Do your business in the hole, wipe, throw the toilet paper (or leaves  🙂 ) in there too, and cover it up with the dirt you took out.

Although this is an easy method, here are a few rules you’ll want to abide by:

  • Place your cat-hole site is at least 200 feet from any source of water
  • Don’t dig in an area where water visibly flows (rain water run-off etc)
  • Disperse the cat holes over a wide area if possible
  • If possible, setup your cat hole in an area that gets a lot of sunlight (this will aid decomposition)
  • Again, remember water runoff. Your every thought should be on preventing feces from reaching any water source — be it underground well water, your water table, rivers, lakes, springs, and creeks.

The Trench Latrine


trenchlatrineFor a longer-term sanitation solution, you’ll want to build yourself a trench latrine.

A trench latrine is basically an over sized cat hole that is used multiple times. With the exception of dispersing it over a wide area, the same rules above apply to trench latrines as well.

The minimal recommended dimensions are around 1.5 feet (.45 m) wide x 1 foot (.3 m) deep and 2 feet (.6 m) long.

It’s also recommended that you build some type of privacy partition. An emergency situation is stressful enough. You don’t need to give anyone the added pressures of becoming a peep show. For example, a simple partition can be built with a few stakes in the ground with blankets, sheets or tarps stretched between them.

Since it is a multi-use station, you’ll also want to prevent any flies and pests from coming into contact with the exposed excrement. To do this, after each use cover your business with some wood ash, quick lime, or a few inches of the dirt that came out of the ground when making the pit.

Waste Disposal in a City

The average person produces around 2-3 pints of urine and 1 pound of poop a day. Multiply that by the number of people in your family and in a short time you can only imagine the amount of crap that would pile up in an extended grid-down situation in the city.

In most cases, city dwellers (and many suburbanites) do not have access to land where they can safely dig a trench latrine or cat holes. If you are one of these unlucky folk you’ll need to consider other options. Here are two possibilities that you could use:

Use Your Existing Toilet

Even if the sewage lines are down or if you’re short on water, it’s still possible to use your existing toilet:

toilet-remove-water1

First remove as much water from the bowl as possible.

toilet-tape-bag

Second, tape a doubled-up trash bag to the underside of the toilet seat and let the bag fill the cavity of the bowl.

toilet-ash-bag

Have a pail of wood ash, quicklime, kitty litter or sawdust available so that after each duty is done, the offender can sprinkle a liberal amount over it. This will keep the stench down.

toilet-remove-bag

Finally, when the bag is filled up 2/3 the volume of the bowl, add a good amount of quicklime, wood ash or other disinfectant. If you do not have any of these things, you can use dirt with a little bit of a chlorine solution sprayed in it.
After the addition of the disinfectant, securely tie up the bag and place it in a temporary, seal-able container (like a 5-gallon bucket or trash container). Keep it in there until you can find a good time and place to dispose of it.

Use a 5-Gallon Bucket

A 5-gallon bucket can be used in a similar way to the toilet as explained above.

Like the toilet-method above, you’ll want to line it with a double-bagged layer of trash bags (heavy duty are highly recommended). For a seat, you can either sit on the rim of the bucket directly (it’s actually not as uncomfortable as you’d think), place your existing toilet seat on it, or place a couple of 2x4s or other similar objects on the rim to fabricate a makeshift seat:

sanitation-toilet-bucket

If you feel like spending a little money you can pick up a toilet seat cover made for a 5-gallon bucket.

I’ve also seen them sell bags that are made for these 5-gallon expedient toilets as well as toilet deodorants that control the smell and are made for these types of portable toilets. I don’t have any experience with these but they seem to get good reviews in Amazon (click on an image to see the product and reviews):

toilet-cover toilet-bag toilet-deodorant

composting-toiletFor those of you with a bit more money in your pockets, they sell non-electric composting toilets that are completely off-grid, require no water, and supposedly convert human waste into usable compost without odor.

If any of you have these types of toilets, I’d love to hear from your experiences. That may be something that an apartment/city dweller could use in a SHTF situation.

Conclusion

I hope you come out of this post realizing how important the safe disposal of human waste is and how you can properly take care of you and your families waste if times get bad.

In the next and final article in this series I’ll be covering how you can properly dispose of garbage in a grid-down scenario.

  In a SHTF situation, proper sanitation is of utmost importance if you want to keep your family from getting seriously sick. When you add to that a lack of medical